You could think of the First Awakening as "separation consciousness." What does that mean? It means that [they] have found ways to create problems that divide us, that frighten us, that make us forget our own power. How did they do this? Well, remember that we have two levels in our physical brains -- high and low, or new and old. The "old" or "low" brain is sometimes called the "reptilian" brain. It houses our instincts and our emotions (unfortunately). The new or "high" brain contains our reasoning and thinking faculties. When the low brain is triggered, it reaches for supporting experience from the high brain. If there is none, we act on instinct alone. If there is, we adopt a makeshift "plan."
In the case of the overwhelming political and global problems we begin to recognize as the First Awakening dawns, our low brain becomes terrified and our high brain tells us it has no answer. You've never solved a global problem before. How are you going to do it now? So our response is to believe and feel we are helpless in the face of this. Alone. Useless. Thus the First Awakening brings with it the confirmation of separation consciousness. We are in this by ourselves. No one can help. We can't do anything about it. Omigosh! It doesn't feel good at all. No wonder most people choose denial and try to go right back to sleep.
The Second Awakening is "unity consciousness." Rather than registering as "Boy, do we have a problem," it is a recognition of "Wow, we're in this together!" Yet the Second Awakening is not a natural reflex, because unity consciousness is quite foreign to most of us, being soaked in separation consciousness as we are. The Second Awakening is a difficult state to attain, and a difficult concept for most current-events-conscious people to grasp. The New Age movement, however, touts unity consciousness and positive affirmation, yet it is difficult to manifest a better world when one is not willing to see the existing world for what it is. Many New Agers prefer not to dwell on negative things, and are thus not interested in the political picture.
So how does a person get to unity consciousness (the Second Awakening) from separation consciousness (the First Awakening)? It seems that our job is to create a bridge between the two. Somehow we have to be able to know what's wrong and feel good about the future. Not easy! -- given the circumstances and our vulnerable human state. Essentially, the First Awakening says "this is not good," and the Second Awakening says "this is good." How do the two fit or work together?
Human Beings ... Creatures of Intention
It has been said that the "being" part of us is being taken away -- that we are being reduced to a class of "humans" only. Look at it this way: The "being" part of us says "this is good" and the human part of us says "we have problems." Separated from our being part, we can only exist in the problem.
One could also substitute the term "awareness" for "awakening." Thus, the First Awakening is the First Awareness: we have problems. The Second Awakening is the Second Awareness, or we are in this together. Now that doesn't sound so bad, does it?
Humans alone are not creatures of intention. They are creatures of reaction/response. Human beings produce and emit intention. Why don't we let our intention pave the way for our future, rather than reacting to what is laid out for us?
The 1990s were pronounced by President George H.W. Bush to be "The Decade of the Brain." Funding for neuroscience shot up and research began in earnest on the "3-pound mass of interwoven nerve cells that controls our activity." Most neuroscientists believed at the time that "the mind is a set of operations carried out by the brain, much as walking is a set of operations carried out by the legs ..." (Eric Kandel, Nobel Laureate). But is that true?
Let's take a look at neurons and synapses -- the super-highways of biochemistry ... There are approximately 100 billion neurons in a human brain, the same as the number of stars in the Milky Way. Neurons form tendrils that result in a humming network of amino-acid filled fibers that connect to other tendrils attached to more neurons. Synapses are the gaps between neurons, across which information travels. There are some 500 trillion synapses, putting the number of possible circuits in the range of 10 followed by a million zeros. And that's just in one of us. Are we walking wonders or not?
Yet molecular biology would like more than anything to end the discussion of body/mind and brain/mind. It's all just biology, chemistry and physics -- and by 2050 we'll know what there is to know. It's all neurochemicals -- everything. But although brains as machines may be the same (neurons and synapses), the YOU in each brain is clearly different. What's it made of? Each of us has experiences, which form the stuff of our story and our memories ... and our interpretation of these stories and memories may be said to be the basis of our personality.
Even leading neuroscientists allow that the brain is "a creature of habit" with "natural intentionality." It issues and labels corrections, sensory experiences, difference and memories. Its left hemisphere analyzes while its right hemisphere interprets. It explains and narrates when it cannot identify by the obvious alone. Our narrative impulse is so strong that it doesn't even stop during sleep, which is what underlies the fanciful leaps we make during and from the fragmented stuff in our dreams. (Why are dreams so weird? The brain tries to connect bits and pieces with its natural story-making department.)